Gaiman’s story in Legends II, “The Monarch of the Glen,” is set in the universe of American Gods. Shadow finds himself in Scotland, hired to bodyguard a party against gatecrashers, by a little doctor who calls him a monster and tells him, “I am something of a monster myself. Like calls to like. We are all monsters, are we not? Glorious monsters, shambling through the swamps of unreason . . . “
Yes, we’re in a monster story of a sort, a sort that is probably transparently obvious to everyone who isn’t me. I took much too long to figure out what was going on, partly because my background in some literary traditions is sketchy, and partly because I read this late at night while suffering from insomnia. For me, my principal impression of the story is that I still can’t get into Shadow’s point-of-view. Interesting things happen around him, but as a character he continues to slip through my fingers: which, yes, may well be the point, but I find it frustrating to a degree that overcomes my fondness for difficult narrators.
At the end Shadow decides to go back to America. I’ll read the stories to come about this, but again, I’ll dial my expectations way down, having determined that my problems with Shadow extend past the setup of American Gods.
Trivia note: we learn what name is on Shadow’s birth certificate in this story, which knowledgeable readers will have guessed already.